Vacant Lots in Maple Ridge

October 28, 2011

Corisa Bell for Maple Ridge Council
Question asked at the Maple Ridge All Candidates meeting in Fraserview where candidates, including Corisa Bell, addressed specific questions.

Preamble: There is one consistent pattern about boarded up buildings and houses in the area of Haney. They accumulate garbage and refuse, provide homes for mice and rats, are consistently in a state of unsightliness and they are rarely secured. Over the course of the summer three abandoned structures all within walking distance of each other were on fire and required attention. All three of these structures though damaged by fire are all still standing. The boxing club that was on 224th and 117th ave became a grow-op that was shut down. This building had no exterior south facing wall for over a year and yet it took years for the city to finally get it torn down and the site cleaned up.

If there are existing bylaws to deal with this issue they are not being used, or they are simply not effective. One viable solution is that city hall commit to annual engineering inspections of all abandoned structures, and any structure that is found to fail inspection be fully repaired or torn down with in a 6 month period of failing the inspection.

Question: How will you work with the rest of council to ensure that city staff is onside and diligent in creating, or adopting from other municipalities, bylaws that make engineering inspections automatic for boarded up buildings and houses?

The builder of my home heavily damaged the sidewalk out front way back in 2008. It was marked with a pink strip for repair not long after, and to this day our neighbourhood is waiting for that sidewalk to be repaired.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know why it takes so long for some of these things to happen. Is it red tape? Is it lack of priority? Is it lack of delegation? I don’t know, but assure you that if elected to council I intend to find out. Bylaws are meaningless without the ability to enforce them, so before proceeding on fixing this issue I would like to know better how the city works to understand the source of the problem so as to create an effective solution.

I want to note however, that the vacant buildings referenced are situated primarily within an area where a Port Haney Association has been created and funded to improve the neighborhood. I attended a meeting there last night and as council would intend to work with them to make further improvements and to discuss the status of these buildings.

The current government is relying on the Port Haney Association to clean up the neighborhood surrounding you, so I would encourage you to get involved in the association and to support councillors who attended this meeting instead of other community events which took place on the same evening.

Click here to download responses to all 9 questions in PDF form

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